Fishing tackle

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I cleaned out my fishing box this afternoon. It’s a large white Ikea-esque plastic job. I use it as a bin, chucking all potentially-needed gear into it before transfer into the boot of the car. It’s like a travelling fishing wardrobe. Waders, chest pack, spare spools, fly boxes, partially decayed bananas. I’ve found some fascinating biology in it over the years, at all stages from off-fresh to genetically-evolved beyond all comprehension.

Removing the large items from around the box I found a fine layer of various detritus and dust on the bottom. And there in one corner was an upwing spinner, decayed as far as to leave just a paper-thin body shell. Heaven knows during which season it came to find itself there. It might have been an olive upright, but I wasn’t sure. Feeling that warm and slightly intangible connection to the river one still feels when not actually there, I dug out the camera and photographed. I then picked it up, examined it closely, and gave it a gentle tap. It disintigrated into tiny pieces, joining the rest of the dust and detritus in the bottom of the box. I wondered how it had managed to stay in one piece for so long, hidden away from all the random junk that lives in there.

I couldn’t help consider how long it would take for the rest of the box’s contents to reach a similar state of decay, poised between form and dust. Let’s hope at least the shiny aluminium reel has a few years left.

Well after a bit of consideration I’ve opted for a pair of Orvis Pack and Travel wading shoes. Nice and light weight, simple boots, should fit the task nicely. Seems to be Orvis’ cheapest pair of boots. Looking over their other models in the shop yesterday I struggled to find any reason for the heavy, £100 plus options. Only question open to debate is longevity, for which time will tell.

Had to happen really, things were getting out of hand..

My wading boots are about 4 years old. I can’t remember the model name but they were made by Scierra. They have traveled with me to beautiful remote hill lochs, to less remote lowland lochs, to my local rivers and streams, and even to the odd night out. One boot has been missing a sole for about a season and a half, which has increased its soul value considerably.

But I think there comes a time when enough is enough. The left boot is in a particularly bad state, with the entire upper boot now threatening to come away from the remaining sole unit.

Both boots are currently held together with 2.5″ nails which I’ve hammered through the soles and into/out of the uppers. I feel I’ve had pretty good mileage out of them, particularly given that friends of mine with the same boots used them for barely a season before replacement.

So I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement pair which don’t cost the earth. On Sunday I made an misfortuned visit to an unnamed giant fishing shop in Glasgow. Due in large part to my own absorption in choosing tapered leaders I overshot the closing time and ran out of time to try new boots. So now I’m looking at mail order, or one of Edinburgh’s few tackle shops.

I quite like the look of the Orvis Clearwater boots (I have the same line in waders), but I’m not sure about sizing… Perhaps this week I will have to get down to the local store and try some out. The much-touted Orvis warranty seems like a good idea with items like waders and boots.

Many anglers seems to view items like waders and boots as completely disposable, only expecting a season or two out of a pair at best. Mr Corporate over at and I have discussed this before, both agreeing that anglers should expect much more of their often overpriced gear. A season or two for a £200 pair of giant plastic socks? Barmy if you ask me, but perhaps I’m already becoming a tight old git completely out of touch with the ‘modern way’.

Last May I was out fishing on an upland stream one sunny Saturday afternoon. There were new lambs on the hills, the river was flowing a beautiful light whisky colour, and below the field through which I walked there did lie a number of peaty bogs. I did not notice this fact as I strolled happy as a sparrow towards the whisky-coloured river. I did notice the lambs however, along with the singing birds, the wonderful smell of spring and various other assorted items relating to the bounty of life.

About three quarters of the way across the field I finally noticed the peaty bogs. Unfortunately it was somewhat ex post facto, as I discovered one of them as part of the act of falling into its deepest corner. During the process of becoming embedded thigh deep in the goo I managed to roll backwards, sit down hard on my rear end, and thus reshape the curvature of my (rather expensive) fancy weigh-net. It was a graceful moment.

I like my weigh-net, and before last May I particularly liked its nice rounded shape, which makes landing fish an easy task. After crawling out of the bog, I sat down to survey the damage. I’m not sure what the probability is of landing precisely on the wrong part of a landing net, at precisely the wrong angle, but someone had obviously rolled the dice enough times. That or I’ve got a wide ass.

I now own a landing net which looks like its been in an altercation with John McEnroe. It has a buttock-shaped indentation along one of its sides which acts to somewhat reduce the beauty of that curvature I mentioned back there. Fortunately the weigh-bit of the weigh-net was not damaged during its rough and tumble with my rear end. Let’s just say things could have been a lot worse.

So the question I’m now posing myself, as I sit and contemplate such important matters in the middle of winter is, can what is bent be unbent? That is a deep question. Thankfully not as deep as it could have been, but still quite deep. Half way towards the deep end I’d say, before being rescued from certain disaster.

I’ve thought about clamping it in a vice and using pliers to try and reshape it, but I’m afraid I’ll never get back that smooth, circular curve. I’ve thought about just hitting it with a hammer and hoping. But I’m no salmon angler. Finally I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that can reliably reverse a buttock-shaped problem is another buttock. An anti-buttock. The main issue posed by this solution is where to locate an anti-buttock.

Over these past months I’ve been discretely on the lookout for an anti-buttock, but so far I’ve not made a confirmed sighting. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I think it might have something to do with bosoms. No I mean bosons. Easy mistake to make. Where was I?

Ok, so I need an anti-buttock to reshape my dented landing net. Hope that makes sense, it does seems simple enough.

What does an anti-buttock look like then? Given that anti-particles are kind of like a mirror image of particles, I reckon that the closest I’m going to get to an anti-buttock is a buttock reflected in a mirror. So what I need to do now is to somehow conspire to fall on my landing net, purely by accident, landing the right way, on the right part of the net, and all while looking into a mirror. I know this sounds like it could end up as part of a Channel 5 late-night program on bizzare A&E cases (I don’t even like hamsters), I’m sure that with the right execution I could be onto a winner. Well, hopefully not onto a winner, but you know what I mean.

So at the end of the most innuendo-clad Tamanawis post of the decade, I shall head off and position the mirror. Oh what do you know, it’s already positioned.. How did that happen?

A couple of years back my dad and I nipped up the road to Pitlochry to have a casting lesson with Ally Gowans. As we strolled down to the river I asked him about his general leader setup for dry fly fishing. He said that he preferred the simplest method possible, that of knotting a tapered leader to the end of his fly line. Carefully weighing up a poisoned barb, I asked him about the use of the dreaded braided loop…


It turned out that he was the newly appointed Commander in Chief of the Braided Loops Anonymous charity. This is a little known organisation that works to rehabilitate anglers unfortunate enough to have been conned by clever marketing into using braided loops on the ends of their fly lines. He was remarkably adamant about the evil of braided loops, and I could see where he was coming from.

People spend gazillions of pounds/dollars/euros on fly lines. Some of those Scientific Anglers jobs cost more than most of my fly rods. These modern fly lines are a marvel of engineering. Carefully chosen plastic composites are sheathed over intricately woven braid, and the whole thing given a precise and painstakingly researched profile. There are gazillions of profiles of course, each suited to a different condition, a certain size of fly, a nymph or a dry, night time or day time. The profiles taper with nuclear accuracy, honed from the wide diameter of the head, down through the transitional taper to the delicate little section right at the tip. It’s enough to cause my head to spin.

So there they are, ranks of beautifully constructed fly lines, many of them costing considerably more than a fine 17 year old single malt. They’re carefully attached to similarly expensive brightly-coloured backing, presumably made from Madonna’s old tights, and wound onto similarly expensive reels peddled by certain bling merchants as important for catching fish. And the pièce de résistance?  Glue a 50 pence hunk of plastic on the end.

It’s like a sous-chef taking all day to prepare a delicately flavoured bolognaise sauce, using only the freshest ripe tomatoes, the most aromatic basil and the most mature steak, and then lobbing in half a bottle of ketchup. It’s just not cricket.

So, what’s a better solution?


This picture has nothing to do with this post. But tell me, when was a photo of a guy wearing a kilt sporting a head digitally-substituted with a bunch of flowers not a good thing?

Well the old Wise-Man of Pitlochry uses a simple Borger knot, tying his leader straight onto the end of the fly line. This inevitably causes a slight hump from the wraps of the knot, but it’s a hell of a lot less intrusive than those braided loops.

In an earlier post I waxed lyrical about the method of gluing a leader into the end of the fly line. This is still my preferred method, and the one that unquestionably gives the smoothest transition between fly line and leader, and ultimately the smoothest turnover.

The only downside is the slight hinging effect that happens between the stiff end of the leader butt and the limp fly line. I’ve found that over the course of a few months, particularly when you’re fishing a lot, a bit of a crack can sometimes develop in the fly line at this hinge.

Personally, I can’t be bothered with trying to re-glue a hingey fly line to leader connection when I’m out on the river. Nowadays I therefore tend to adopt the Wise-Man’s approach, and use a knot.


And here we come to the crux of this ramble. Whilst browsing around a year or two ago I came across a groovy nail knot tool that makes it really easy to tie a secure connection between leader and fly line. The Wise-Man disapproved of course, saying that any angler worth his salt should be able to tie knots without a tool. Again, I can see his point, but I like my damn tool. It’s small, cute and does the job very nicely. I’ve tried doing nail knots with no tools, and while it is perfectly possible, this wee tool lets me do it in a fraction of the time. Most importantly however, I feel more inclined to trust the final knots.

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